Democratic state senator says it’s time to approve so-called “red-flag” gun laws
Lawmakers are pushing for stricter gun regulations following this weekend’s two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas.
Among them is state Senator Rosemary Bayer from Beverly Hills, Michigan. She’s introduced a package of gun control bills in the Michigan Senate. State Representative Robert Wittenberg has introduced matching bills in the House.
The bills are the first step for gun control legislation in Michigan, says Bayer. They would allow for extreme risk protection orders, which restrict access to firearms for those deemed dangerous to themselves or others. These are sometimes known as “red flag" laws. Currently 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow for extreme risk protection orders.
“The idea is to avoid things that happen in the moment, that are driven by some kind of crisis,” Bayer said.
Michigan’s proposed law would allow family members, as well as police officers, to ask the court for an extreme risk protection order. If an injunction were granted, the subject of the order would have any firearms they own confiscated by the police, and would be prohibited from buying guns for a year.
The bills stipulate that people who have had their guns removed would be entitled to a hearing within 14 days, and it also includes penalties for anyone who files a false report.
So-called "red flag" laws are becoming more common. The number of states that have passed or considered enacting such laws jumped in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A Washington Post poll last year found that a majority of Americans - 85% - would support laws that allowed for extreme risk protection orders. Opponents of these laws say they infringe on Second Amendment rights. Bayer disagrees.
“This is not about the Second Amendment. This is about keeping people from doing things that are really dangerous for public safety, for the health of our families, for the health of our kids,” she said.
Bayer’s long-term plan for gun control includes introducing bills on safe storage and background checks, but for now she says she is just hoping to start a conversation.
"We need to just talk about what it takes to address the issue.”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Anna Schlutt.